Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to make major changes to the roster with only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre’s contracts on the books for the 2014-15 season.
Uncertainty clouded the franchise and its fans up until the moment Byron Scott was hired as head coach.The dominoes began to slowly fall after that. Julius Randle became the youngest player on the roster when the Lakers drafted him with the seventh pick in the NBA Draft. Then they landed Jeremy Lin and a future first-round pick in a trade with the Houston Rockets, pairing him in the back court next to the soon to be 36-year-old Kobe. Finally, they won the amnesty bid on veteran forward Carlos Boozer, which will pay him only $3.25 million next season.
Those were the highlights of the Lakers offseason.
On Wednesday, the NBA released the full schedule for the 2014-15 season which will kick things off on Oct. 28 with a double-header on TNT which the Lakers will be participating in. They have a total of 28 nationally televised games.
Opening Night, Oct. 28 vs. Houston Rockets
Superman and “The Beard” vs. The Black Mamba
After playing in just six games last season due to his second catastrophic injury, Kobe makes his highly anticipated return. Lakers head trainer Gary Vitti has expressed his optimism for the realistic shot that Bryant can play again close to 100 percent with no lingering concerns. If he’s even 80 percent of the old Kobe, he’s going to get his 20 to 24 points per game with ease – his expertise and old man post up game will still be elite. Only the athleticism will be gone.
The last time the two teams met in April, Dwight Howard did not play due to injury but James Harden reminded everybody why he’s arguably the best shooting guard in the game dropping 33 points and 12 assists. Howard did score 20 points, grab 13 rebounds and block three shots in February when they met in Houston though. With the Lakers having only one true center on the roster (Sacre) and lacking much size over 6-foot-10, expect Howard to put up Superman type of numbers, somewhere along the lines of a 20-20 game.
Just like Vitti warned all the Kobe doubters, “You’d be crazy to doubt him”. Opening night can’t get here soon enough.
Jan. 15- LeBron vs. Kobe
Another must see
Remember back on March 28, 2003, when a young Kobe scored 55 points against Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards? Knowing that Kobe is close to hanging it up now, does LeBron James plan on putting on a show similar to how Kobe did for Jordan back then?
It’s not a coincidence that both matchups between the Lakers and Cavaliers are on national television. Since we never saw a LeBron-Kobe NBA Finals, the league was smart to capitalize on these two players going head to head in the regular season towards the end of Kobe’s career.
LeBron has a new, younger supporting cast with him back home in Cleveland but Kobe, always internally motivated to prove himself when playing against the best, will be out to show The King that the Black Mamba still has a little venom left in his bite.